A view of the Gwadar port. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: China took control of Pakistan's Gwadar port on Monday as part of its drive to secure energy and maritime routes that also gives it a potential Arabian Sea naval base, sparking Indian concern.

“The contract of operation of Gwadar port is formally given to China. Today, the agreement is transferred from the Port of Singapore Authority to China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited,” President Asif Ali Zardari announced.

“The award of this contract opens new opportunities for our people... It gives new impetus to Pakistan-China relations,” added Zardari in a speech broadcast live on television.

On January 30 the Pakistani cabinet approved the transfer of Gwadar, currently a commercial failure cut off from the national road network, from PSA International to the state-owned China company.

The Pakistanis pitched the deal as offering an energy and trade corridor that would connect China to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz, a gateway for a third of the world's traded oil, overland through an expanded Karakoram Highway.

Experts say it would cut thousands of kilometres off the distance which oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East have to travel to reach China.

China paid about 75 per cent of the initial $250 million used to build the port but in 2007 PSA International won a 40-year operating lease. Then-ruler Pervez Musharraf was reportedly unwilling to upset Washington by giving control of the port to the Chinese.

On February 6 Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said New Delhi was concerned by Pakistan's decision to transfer management of the deep-sea port to China, which has interests in a string of other ports encircling India.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Tough talks
Updated 16 Apr, 2024

Tough talks

The key to unlocking fresh IMF funds lies in convincing the lender that Pakistan is now ready to undertake real reforms.
Caught unawares
Updated 16 Apr, 2024

Caught unawares

The government must prioritise the upgrading of infrastructure to withstand extreme weather.
Going off track
16 Apr, 2024

Going off track

LIKE many other state-owned enterprises in the country, Pakistan Railways is unable to deliver, while haemorrhaging...
Iran’s counterstrike
Updated 15 Apr, 2024

Iran’s counterstrike

Israel, by attacking Iran’s diplomatic facilities and violating Syrian airspace, is largely responsible for this dangerous situation.
Opposition alliance
15 Apr, 2024

Opposition alliance

AFTER the customary Ramazan interlude, political activity has resumed as usual. A ‘grand’ opposition alliance ...
On the margins
15 Apr, 2024

On the margins

IT appears that we are bent upon taking the majoritarian path. Thus, the promise of respect and equality for the...